Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Dr Strangeglove: The 2011 Remake

Toronto beat the Yankees last night at Yankee Stadium to even the season series at three and three.  It was an unremarkable game, really; final score 7-3.

That's not to say it was totally uneventful.  Toronto third baseman Edwin Encarnacion (I don't speak Spanish, but it looks remarkably like a translation of "Second Coming of Butch Hobson") made his 11th error, booting a ground ball.

Encarnacion has split his time between third and first base, starting 16 games at the hot corner.  In those 16 games, he's committed eight errors.  For those whose maths skills are roughly the equivalent of E-squared's fielding skills, that's an error every other game, a remarkable feat.  The most errors committed at third in the past 100 years is 43, a record that EE would not only break over a full season, but bury the pieces.

How bad is EE's glovework?

ESPN had a list of other Strangegloves who have played third (e.g., Butch Hobson, who made the aforementioned 43 miscues), and their abysmal fielding percentages were generally between .850 and .899.

It's awful to have a FA below .900 (meaning you boot one of every ten plays).

Encarnacion's fielding average this hear is below .800 (.784).  This means that one of every five balls hit to Encarnacion results in an error.

That's not particularly good for someone playing in Pony League.

Oh - for good measure, E-squared has made three errors in 60 innings of play at first base.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Mr Toad's VERY Wild Ride

Just returned from a couple of days' vacation in Orlando, Florida.  The heat, humidity, and infestation of "love bugs" (you've really got to go to Florida in May to believe it) to the side, it was a great trip.  It was a fun experience taking our five year old to Disney World.

Found one particular thing quite disturbing, however.  In the Orlando Magic Kingdom park at WDW, it seems that "Mr Toad's Wild Ride" is now gone, if not forgotten; replaced, as it were, by the "Winnie the Pooh" ride.  Now, "Winnie the Pooh" is a fine child's story, and Alastair greatly enjoyed the ride (he is still humming the tune from "Heffalumps and Woozles").

But did they HAVE to get rid of the iconic Mr Toad?

And for those wondering, Mr Toad is, in fact, not TRULY gone.  We were waiting in the queue for one of the other rides (itself part of the real Disney experience) and spotted him.

If you're in WDW in the near future, go to the Haunted Mansion ride.  Just outside, there is a pretend "Pet Cemetery" with odd pet headstones (a bird, a snake, a frooey-frilly poodle).  Look at the back left of the graveyard.

Yep.  The Final Resting Place for Mr Toad can be seen.  It seems that, whenever Mr Toad was closed, they took the statue of the old gent from the ride and put it neatly in the back of the cemetery.

I guess that he took one of the turns in the ride just a bit too wildly.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Weird Stats of the Day

Toronto, in its quest to extend a streak of futility to two decades (that is to say, they have not only not won the World Series, nor even appeared in the playoffs in 18 years, they've not even really nodded at contending) lost again yesterday afternoon to the Detroit Tigers.

This loss followed a previous 9-0 defeat on Saturday afternoon in a game that, aside from the no-hitter (and near perfect game - a single walk spoiled that) by Detroit's Justin Verlander, was pretty unremarkable.

Sunday's loss dropped the Jays to 3-13 thus far in day baseball games (source: ESPN.COM).  Now, the Blue Jays are 15-19 over-all, which means that the team is 12-6 in night baseball games.

Put those two records side by side:

Day:    3-13
Night: 12-6

That's a very odd juxtaposition, don't you think?

During the day, the Blue Jays as a team are hitting a robust .204, the worst in the American League (the league average is .253).  At night, the team hits .282, which is not only the highest in the American League, but is so by a fairly healthy margin (Cleveland is second, at .268).  For what it's worth, the AL batting average is, collectively, .246 at night.

The pattern is not repeated for Toronto pitching, who yield a .240 BA during day games, and .239 at night.

So not only do the Jays see widely different fortunes in their day/night splits - basically going from the 1968 Washington Senators to the 1927 Yankees in a sense - but have exactly the opposite pattern the rest of the league shows.

It's generally thought to be easier to hit during the day, when natural light makes it easier to see the ball, so I'm curious as to just why this might be.

A second fun stat is that yesterday's losing pitcher, Jo-Jo Reyes, has now failed to win a game in 25 consecutive starts, spanning back nearly three years (his last win was in June 2008, with Atlanta).  In that span of games, Reyes has gone 0-12, with an ERA of 6.11.

In my lifetime, only two pitchers have gone that long without a win.  Anthony Young went 27 starts between 1990 and 1992 without a win (0-17), and Matt Keough set the pace with zero wins in 28 straight starts from 1977-1978 (0-18).

Keough, of course, was famous for setting the standard for futility in the modern era, with a 2-17 W/L record in 1979.

We may see history of a sort made this year - if Reyes, who is "out of options" keeps going out to the mound.

Stay tuned.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Somewhere, Over a Barrel

The price of oil (and therefore, gasoline and just about everything else) is up. That's not so good.  But I really had to laugh at the hypocrisy of Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Land of Make Believe), who is now calling for hearings into price spikes and "speculation."

In the past,  I thought that fossil fuel consumption was "bad." Senator Boxer has been amongst the loudest voices calling for "carbon taxes," and has been a leader in searching for ways to curb the use of fossil fuels.

What does the esteemed Senator from California THINK would happen if her taxes were put in place??? Is she really that ignorant of economics?  It seems that, if gasoline prices go to $4 or $5, or $8 per gallon (Think: European-style pricing) due to taxes, that's A-OK.  But if market forces somehow result in high prices?  Well, that just won't do.

It's one thing if "The Government" get the money to play around with.  But private individuals?  Ms. Boxer and the nanny-staters have deemed profits to be unsuitable for your use... you're such children, after all.

I truly suspect in this case that Senator Boxer really is dumb, and not just trying to score cheap, political points.

Apparently, in a speech on 15th July 2008 (the last time we saw large price spikes), her mathematical ignorance was on full display, when she offered that "8 years, divided by 2 Oil Men in the White House, equals $4 per gallon."

WELLLL.... now that the White House has two decidedly "non-oil men" (a "community organiser" and whatever it is the Biden was doing when not getting bad hair replacement surgery), how does Ms. Boxer's ratio hold up? 

Eight years divided by two "oil" men = $4 per gallon gasoline.

Two years divided by zero oil men equals... Uh-oh...